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Case of the Month
October 2006

Case Overview

Craig A. Hurst v. East Coast Hockey League, Inc.; Knoxville Cherokees Hockey, Inc., d/b/a Pee Dee Pride Hockey, and d/b/a Florence Pride Hockey; Florence City-County Civic Center Commission d/b/a Florence City-County Civic Center; City of Florence; and County of Florence

Mr. Hurst alleges that he was struck in the face by an errant hockey puck while attending a Pee Dee Pride hockey game at the Florence City-County Civic Center. Mr. Hurst was in the stands behind the goal when the incident occurred. Mr. Hurst filed this action alleging the defendants breached their duty to exercise reasonable care for his safety, specifically the duty to protect him against the risk of the hockey puck leaving the rink and striking him, and to take precautions to eliminate unreasonable risks to him. This action was filed in the court of common pleas, or circuit court, in Florence County.

The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.1 After a hearing on the matter, the circuit court granted the motion for summary judgment and dismissed the action in its entirety. The circuit court found the defendants were not liable for Mr. Hurst’s injuries because he assumed the risk of injury from an errant hockey puck by voluntarily attending the hockey game as a spectator. Although the circuit court found the defendants owed Mr. Hurst no legal duty to protect him from an open, obvious, and inherent risk of injury from errant hockey pucks while he attended the hockey game, it found that even if such a duty was owed, Mr. Hurst failed to produce any evidence that the defendants failed to exercise due care in providing him with the appropriate protection. Finally, the circuit court dismissed Mr. Hurst’s claims against the City and the County pursuant to the terms of the South Carolina Tort Claims Act, S.C. Code Ann. § 15-78-10 et seq. The circuit court found that pursuant to the Act, a governmental entity may be held liable only for the acts of its own employees who are acting in the scope of their official duties, and the evidence in the record established that neither the City nor the County employed any person working for or at the Civic Center, the Pride, the Commission, or the ECHL, nor did they have any authority or control over the Pride, the ECHL, the Commission, the employees at the Civic Center, or the operations of the Civic Center.

Mr. Hurst filed an appeal in the South Carolina Court of Appeals. The appeal was transferred to the South Carolina Supreme Court. Mr. Hurst argues that the circuit court erred in finding (1) Mr. Hurst assumed the risk of errant pucks; (2) the defendants satisfied their duty to provide a reasonably safe premises; and (3) the South Carolina Tort Claims Act immunized the City and County from liability.


1 Pursuant to Rule 56, a judge can grant a motion for summary judgment where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.


Case Briefs

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Final Brief of Appellant (708 kb)

Final Brief of Respondents (534 kb)

 


Oral Arguments

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